New help to prevent and recognize self harm and other negative behaviors in kids

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The start of the school year can be a time of high anxiety for kids. Combine it with low self-esteem, and kids can get into habits such as pulling their own hair or picking their skin. Some even cut or burn themselves. There's new online help for parents and kids.

At Cristo Rey High School, kids focus on school work and jobs. Every student has a job. But the school counselor also sees some kids with a focus that can become unhealthy -- their own bodies and perceived flaws. Sometimes there are repetitive behaviors toward themselves.

"In general, it would be about the stress or anxiety that can be combined with low self-esteem," Maria Simental-Turner said.

"(It's) sometimes borne out by the way parents or media or other students talk about a person, talk about their body weight, their shape, their hair color, their you-name-it," said Susan Crain Lewis, president of Mental Health America of the Heartland.

Crain Lewis knows body-focused repetitive behaviors and self harm are very treatable if you get help early. Mental Health America has new resources for kids and parents to help prevent trouble and recognize if there is a problem.

"It's a light-hearted, very accessible way to talk about subjects that sometimes are uncomfortable but are really, really important to have conversations about," she said.

And if you suspect there is a problem, know that help is close by.

"Once you see something going on, communicate with the school. That's what we're here for -- school counselors," Simental-Turner said.

If needed, the counselor can refer you to a psychologist or others who can help your child stop the harmful behavior.